Do you care what other people think about you?
I think we all do, to different extents.
And the more we care, the worse off we are for it.
Most of us are severely underachieving in life, because we’re worried about fitting in and looking good. We all want to find our own version of greatness and fulfillment — we want to be true to ourselves — but a lot of us are held back by other people.
Just a few years ago, I was paralyzed by fear of what other people thought about me.
I used to spend most of my free time getting drunk and watching sports because I wanted to fit in. I was a regular at the bar with all the other regular people, and I could talk football stats for days, but I was nothing.
I was afraid to dress well because I was scared of standing out.
At a house party circa 2007. Do I look happy?
I wanted to fit in and be “normal” like everyone else. Normal people don’t stand out, which is also why they never make a notable impression. I didn’t realize this because I cared too much what other people thought: I was scared of judgment.
If you’re like 99% of the people reading this article, you’re the same way.
There’s a part of you that wants to break free. To muster up the internal confidence to break free from the self-imposed prison of fitting in.
The other part — the stronger part — wants to keep you a prisoner. Who cares about freedom? It’s safer inside your little cell. At least you’re getting fed, and at least you have a bed to sleep on. It’s comfortable.
Of course, there are some good aspects to this internal fear:
Without societal norms constraining human behavior, society would fall apart. If everyone acted on their whims, impulses, and desires without regard for the external world, we would have anarchy on our hands.
But let’s be real.
Most of us don’t secretly want to kill everyone around us, or walk around naked in the streets.
We want to better our lives. We want to do something meaningful with our short time on this planet. For sane people, the alternative to the self-imposed prison cell isn’t a Mad Max type scenario, it’s things like:
Living a disciplined and healthy life Doing fulfilling and meaningful
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